Title: Tropico 6
Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Platform: PlayStation 4
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 27/09/19
Price: £49.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title
I feel that I need to preface this review with the comment that I have not played any of the previous Tropico games. This review is, therefore, coming from a fresh perspective with no previous knowledge about what was offered by previous versions, or what has changed in between.
So, with that out of the way, how did I find my time in the shoes of El-Presidente? Did I build a loving and generous kingdom, or did I rule with an iron fist and revel in seeing the hopes and dreams of my subjects being crushed in the name of my own success? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
The Sound of an Empire Being Born
I loved how this game looked. From the initial set up where you can build your presidential palace and the look of your character. My first iteration was a blue-haired Sheamus lookalike wearing a very fancy looking business suit.
From there the game continued to impress, from the look of the tropical islands that were the basis of my empire and the range of structures and operations that I built as we moved through the different eras.
As impressive as the game was to look at, there was the odd flaw that stood out simply because, while infrequent, the lesser quality graphics were vastly inferior. Waterfalls were one of these elements that stood out like a sore thumb.
The soundtrack to the game was an enjoyable ride. It fit the times and the pacing of the game perfectly and made the overall gameplay experience that much more memorable. Sure, separate music, visuals and gameplay and you have three solid components, it is the way they meshed together that really brought Tropico 6 up a level.
Become the Leader You Always Wanted to Be
Playing Tropico 6, while fun, was not easy for me. I struggled to keep things balanced, my economy seeming to swing from buoyant to broke within what felt like seconds after what felt like a single bad decision. I pushed on but would be lying if I said my view of this game changed greatly the more I played.
I never spent much time in the sandbox, preferring to invest in the different missions that played out the game’s core story. These missions unlock as you complete the previous people and while they are not to be considered directly related they are in many ways a continuation of the underlying theme.
The missions can vary in length, mainly because you get to choose how long they last. Yes, you have an objective, but for all but one of them, you have no set time within which you need to accomplish things. This brings a nice pace to the game allowing you to take your time to learn and appreciate everything the game has to offer.
There is something fulfilling about building your empire from the ground up. There were some annoyances with this, however. While for the most part, the development team did a very good job of bringing keyboard and mouse controls to a single controller finding your way through the different selection wheels was, at times, a chore.
The placement of buildings could also be a little annoying at times, not only because the islands give you only a minimal amount of room for building due to their mountainous nature, but also because the view was not always optimal, making it a struggle to get your structure in the right position.
These were, for the most part, minor irritations and looking back should really be expected when playing this sort of city builder on a console. You did get used to them, however, the one constant irritation that I had was the road building. The controls did the best they could but it was infuriatingly difficult at times to build a straight road from point A to Point B. Even when the path looked clear, there was something, a divot or some other imperceptible object that rendered a square of the map ineligible for building and the road suddenly veered to one side. Yes, you can delete the roads, fix the damaged square and rebuild but it was time-consuming and remained my core annoyance in the game.
I also enjoyed the interactions with other nations and eventually superpowers. The ability to live a peaceful life or one driven by the smell of your enemies’ blood on the battlefield kept the game interesting and made it really feel as if the decision you made had an impact on the game.
I preferred to live a peaceful life and work to avoid conflict where possible because warfare is just something I’d rather avoid.
Tropico is not an easy game to play, and it will not be to everybody’s taste. My view of it changed the more I played, but even I am convinced the game is better than I feel it is, simply because it is not my preferred genre.
Being in Charge Never Grows Old
Tropico is a highly replayable game for two core reasons. One is because you will make mistakes and you will need to learn as you go, meaning the need to restart new saves is high. You need to learn what style of rulership works best for you and what you want to get from the game.
Even once you have mastered the controls and base requirements of the game, you are almost certainly going to get that itch to try again with a different approach, be it gentler or more tyrannical. I had three different games one where I ruled overly cautious, one as an extreme dictator and once on a more thoughtful and serious basis. Each was fun in their own ways, and while there was obviously repetition, I was never bored with any of them.
I really enjoyed my time with Tropico. While it took me a long time to get to the stage where I realized I was enjoying it, looking back and on subsequent games I started, I appreciated the opening phase of things even more.
I do think that this sort of game is still better suited to a keyboard and mouse style of gaming, but that shouldn’t discourage those that don’t have a gaming PC from picking this game up. Just be prepared to maybe have a throwaway game to start things off while you learn the ropes and decide on the best way to rule your kingdom.